Tonight with my two tiny children before bed, one clutching my hand, the other flying wordlessly into sleep, I sang them the same primary songs I have sung them every night for the past five years. My son sang some of the words with me and I had the
distinct feeling that these songs will be theirs forever, the melodies and words will be make up the threads of their spiritual lives long after I am singing them to sleep.
As I sang, I did something that I hadn’t done before, not because the idea hadn’t occurred to me, but more because my religious experience has been as much one of rules as it has been of freedom to move beyond those rules. Even as a grown woman very comfortable with speaking, thinking, figuring out and experimenting with spirituality for myself, I had never out loud sang the words to those familiar primary songs with a female pronoun. As I sang, I am a child of God, and She has sent me here, my children did not balk at the change. If they noticed, they did not say, but it felt right to give it to them. It felt warm, it felt calm singing those words out into the dark. I sang the repertoire replacing the singular pronoun for the word “Parents” in some cases, and going back and forth between “She” and “He” in other cases.
The act didn’t feel subversive, it didn’t feel progressive. It felt like me, as a mother, singing about a Mother I’d like my children to know, even if it is something as simple as the fact that She is there.
After I finished, I lay in the bed for a while next to my sleeping children and thought about how the heart moves so quietly into meadows of content and hope. These last months my heart has felt a little battered as I’ve tried to navigate my way in a church that sometimes feels a little foreign–different from the simple and bright faith of my childhood and youth. In this most simple and familiar of moments, my heart felt a peace I haven’t felt in a while while I did something nearly imperceptible to anyone else, as I sang those words in a small, moonlit room to my children.
I don’t know what the thing is that your heart might need, but I imagine it is different than mine. What I do know is that the gospel of Christ feels real and inspiring to me when I use my own energy, thoughts and ideas in conjunction with what I know and believe. When I move through the actions I’ve done all my life with intentionality, sometimes with an experiment or change that maybe initially feels difficult or just different, the faculties of my spirit feel alive.
When I am completely surprised by what unfolds in those moments, then I know my heart is being healed. I am reminded that my spirituality, my relationship to my Heavenly Parents belongs to no one else, belongs to no policy, no cultural unrest, no institution. I don’t know where the heart intends to go when it it moves so slowly, but for me, a primary song into the dark felt a reach of faith, and I have no doubt that I was reached back to in return.